SPLIT VOTE: On the left: Councillors supporting the $76.5 million Cultural and Civic Space and on the right, those councillors who stand opposed to the project. A rescission motion against the project going to tender will be debated at council on Thursday night.
SPLIT VOTE: On the left: Councillors supporting the $76.5 million Cultural and Civic Space and on the right, those councillors who stand opposed to the project. A rescission motion against the project going to tender will be debated at council on Thursday night.

What’s got the Coffs Coast talking?

Entertainment centre the defining factor

AS a ratepayer and active community member of Coffs Harbour area, I wish to express my concerns regarding the current proposal.

Firstly - yes the area does deserve and need improved library, art gallery space and other cultural space opportunities.

We have been long promised an Entertainment space to replace the previous civic centre.

But the current proposal has a number of major concerns.

The proposal includes council office building and does not include entertainment centre.

Funding will not be available from State or Federal Governments for council Offices.

Gordon Street is not a pleasing or appropriate cultural environment.

Parking not addressed.

Was City Hill in Council brief to consultants?

If so it is understood Council still awaiting report on City Hill. How can a proposal be tabled without all the findings, investigations and costings?

Can Coffs Harbour afford the project?

The current Council Chambers were built with future needs in mind. A third level could be built with minimal disruption to Council employees as concrete flooring already in place.

Rigby House is owned by Council . Library to remain in current location with extension through present art gallery space.

Council to keep properties marked for sale. Why sell prime real estate and not make them generate income.

City Hall was purchased by Council . It was to be a designated cultural area.

This area could be the Cultural Hub of Coffs Harbour and surrounding areas.

Creating art gallery and Aboriginal cultural space, museum and entertainment centre. And parking.

A space for us to be proud of and could be built in stages. An area accessible for the community, schools, University and visitors to enjoy and be cost effective.

Councillors have a responsibility to ratepayers and future generations.

We don't need a 30 year debt and still have inappropriate cultural spaces.

Marie Mandile, East Boambee

cultural and civic space site Coffs Harbour.. 08 July 2019
The site in Gordon St. TREVOR VEALE

The future of the Civic Centre.

LYNETTE F Hyde' s (July 20) narrow minded take on the new Civic Centre highlights the short sighted focus of the angry pensioner brigade trotted out by Andrew Fraser and co last week. First point:

1. The arts create jobs, money and provide education for all people. Look online for examples or you can go to the library to find articles, that is if you find a computer in the cramped space.

2. Yes, the current site is ugly. To replace this with a brilliant piece of architecture would be an acre of Petunias, not just one. Is your solution to leave it as an onion patch? Great idea, leave it as an eyesore.

3. Traffic and car parking; the perennial pensioner whinge. There is a multi-storey car park just behind, under-utilised.

4. The library, museum and art gallery would not have a view. Seriously?
Maybe they should all go on the top floor, where it is difficult for people to visit.

5. This isn't a performance space. Looks lie CEX has got this covered so why complain.

This about the future for me and my kids.

The meeting and subsequent editorial reminds me of my grandad's welcome mat: "Beware: retiree inside knows everything and has plenty of time to tell you about it.
Coffs needs a broad based economy not just based on building or ageing Boomers.

Bec Voss, Sawtell

Coffs Harbour city centre aerial. 14 AUG 2015
The Coffs Harbour city centre. Trevor Veale

Choose the CBD over City Hill

STOPPING the Civic and Cultural Space development will likely further hurt our CBD.

Now is the time to revitalise our city centre and support businesses who paid the special variable rate increase.

A performance space green development at City Hill can see our city thrive but not over what the CBD needs now.

Jonathan Cassell

Do you support the $76.5 million Cultural and Civic Space development?

This poll ended on 25 July 2019.

Current Results

Yes Coffs needs improved cultural and arts facilities, but not at that cost


Yes this development will revolutionise Coffs Harbour in arts and culture build it now


No other alternatives must be sought for this facility


No this is unnecessary use of ratepayers funds


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

A history defining issue for Coffs

AN historical perspective may help us find a way forward.

Coffs Harbour's first Community Centre was the School of Arts, opened in 1904.

It was revamped in 1908, and included a hall, library and smoking room.

Sixty years later, this School of Arts played a central role in the funding and planning of the town's first "custom-built Civic Centre".

The sale of its property to Woolworths supplied 40% of the funding for the new Civic Centre, and came with the condition that the new building included a town hall and a public library.

It is in the long-term memory of Coffs Harbour that a Civic Space includes a hall (or a "performance space", to use current terminology).

The current proposal will only get majority approval if a commitment to a town hall (at City Hill, or elsewhere) is included in the proposal.

Geoffrey Watts

Coffs Harbour City Council, Council Chambers. 11 July 2019
Coffs Harbour City Council's administration building. TREVOR VEALE

The good, the bad and the ugly

THE Good - the councillors who had the foresight to vote against the proposal for the Gordon St Building .

The Bad - the councillors who voted for the Gordon St building.

The Ugly - the proposed Gordon St building.

B Jones

Andrew Fraser, chairs meeting at Norm Jordan Pavilion to raise issues about councils proposed cultural and civic space. 18 July 2019
Andrew Fraser chairs last Thursday's meeting at the Showground. Trevor Veale

Opposition distilled by misinformation

I AM a rate payer. I attended the Council meeting on Thursday, July 11 as well as Andrew Fraser's hastily organised but well-attended meeting on Thursday, July 18 and I intend to attend next Thursday's council meeting.
As a rate payer I am mystified by the misinformation and deceit presented in the discussion about the proposed Cultural and Civic Space (CCS) and the subsequent ignorance expressed in some of the letters published in Saturday's edition of the Advocate.

I'd like to know why Council support for the (CCS) has dropped from eight to one in favour of the project, to four-all despite the extensive consultation showing community support for the project, which was actually confirmed by council at its meeting in 2017.

It now appears to me that council is bowing to community pressure due to the muddied waters stirred by Andrew Fraser, apparently distilled on misinformation.

The Council's "Have Your Say Site" (https://haveyoursay.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/cultural-and-civic-space) addresses many of the misconceptions raised at his meeting and pursued by other speakers on the night. It might have been fairer if the major speakers on the night had read up on the real facts and had the Advocate published the Council's response to this paper's request for information.

At Mr Fraser's meeting, the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie was held up as an example of budgetary blowout, inferring that this will happen here. I found this hard to accept since the Council appears to have developed a sound business case (on the advice of external consultants) confirming the economic viability of the project.

A cultural centre needs to be in the heart of towns as it creates a soul and revitalises the town centre. It is for this same reason that many people don't realise we have a museum precisely because of its current location. Relocating the 3 cultural institutions to City Hill just doesn't make sense, in terms of lack of transportation and distance from the city centre.

Coffs Harbour needs to prioritise Education and its outcome, Culture, and provide support for all the wealth it brings to a city, its absolute need for our youth, and the attraction it can be for the future growth of Coffs as a cultural hub . We are playing catch up and we are far behind comparative cities of our size. Cultural institutions provide avenues of learning which will broaden our children's horizons, something to which we cannot attach a price. This is our worthwhile investment for our children's future.

Centralising Council Offices makes sense; the library, museum and gallery staff will already be housed at the CCS. It will improve efficiencies as current staff are now working at 4 separate locations.

Council needs to have the courage to be our leaders not followers so that our culture future is not compromised here.

As an aside, is placing the mayor's op ed on page 20 and reports on Mr Fraser's meeting on pages 1 and 3 an indication the paper's lack of support for our Council?

Eric Krieger, Toormina

Never forget Port's Glasshouse

DO we need this excessive expenditure? No. Many people that have settled into Coffs in recent years would be unaware of the financial trouble that the council in Port Macquarie went through a few years ago, by spending money that could not be justified at the time on the "Glasshouse".

The end result, an administrator had to be brought in to sort out the city's financial structure.

As to new council chambers, perhaps Andrew Fraser's comment, 'add another floor' to the existing structure has its merit.

To say that this building is near the end of its useful life, come on, my memory suggests that it is only 20 years old.

Trevor Williams, Coffs Harbour.

The Sydney Opera House turns 45
The Sydney Opera House turns 45

The Opera House of the bush

I AM writing to express my support for the proposed Coffs Harbour cultural and civic space. This magnificent building will contain a much needed new library, regional art gallery and council chambers, which will really put Coffs Harbour on the map.

It will regenerate the centre of town and attract large number of tourists to Coffs Harbour.

I remember how controversial spending over a $100 million dollars on the opera house was back in 1970, but this has become an icon for Australia and generates millions of dollars a year for Sydney and Australia.
With the proposed C.ex entertainment centre and the current International Stadium Coffs Harbour can become one of the top regional cities in Australia for tourists to visit and for locals to live in.

Ian Arthur, Sawtell

Council Meeting Re Cultural and Civic space development.Mayor Denise Knight. 11 July 2019. 11 July 2019
Mayor Denise Knight. TREVOR VEALE

New council offices passed off as cultural centre

In its current form, the proposed Cultural and Civic Space Project is a new Council Administration Building with some cultural facilities attached, in an attempt to make it more palatable to community.

Inclusion of a new council administration building adds significant costs, necessitates the sale of council assets, counteracts the ability to seek funding, takes valuable space from art/cultural components, and compromises the unique social identity of a dedicated cultural facility.

Many believed this proposed project included a performance/entertainment component - it does not. It replicates, albeit in a shiny new expensive building, what we already have: council administration, art gallery, library and museum.

Overshadowed by the financial burden of infrastructure, and the cloak of a council administration building, it is impossible to see how this project could cultivate a vibrant arts space.

At both a social, and financial level, there has to be a better way forward than the current proposal put forward by council.

Gabrielle Brabander

City Hill Coffs Harbour.. 12 May 2017
City Hill Coffs Harbour.. 12 May 2017 Trevor Veale

City Hill is not an option folks

ANDREW Fraser is being an elitist when he suggests that the Art Gallery be placed at City Hill.

City Hill is a 15 minute up-hill walk from town, and you need a map to find it.

No-one without a car is going to visit such a location.

And the message will be clear: poor people don't deserve art.

Geoffrey Watts, Sawtell

Council Meeting Re Cultural and Civic space development.. 11 July 2019
Speaking in support of the Cultural and Civic Space development at council. TREVOR VEALE

The proposed Cultural Civic Space

SYDNEY, Melbourne and Brisbane are full.

People are spending hours getting to and from work. Traffic on the motorways is often bumper to bumper and trains and buses are full.

Young families and retirees are looking at their quality of life and considering moving to regions such as our beautiful mid North Coast.

As well as our pleasant climate and magnificent beaches, I believe many will be looking for more. Sport is alive and well but our cultural life is way behind similar regional cities.

They will be looking at services provided by our council.

We have a tired library; dedicated staff but working in a library from the 1990s.

Beside the library, we have a one room art gallery.

Exhibitions bypass our gallery because there is not enough wall space to hang the paintings. Our museum telling the history of our region is perched up on Harbour Drive in a small cottage that is outside our CBD and can only be reached by car. People don't drop in.

At last our council has given us the opportunity to provide a cultural centre befitting a city of 75,000 people. We must not let this opportunity pass. In addition,the centre must be accessible; within the CBD.

The council have spent extensive time and money coming up with a proposal that can make us proud of. The proposal has been on display for many weeks with the council wanting feedback. Some rate payers are concerned about the cost of the proposal.

Perhaps this can be reviewed without scrapping the plans.

I urge the people and the council to get behind the cultural centre and make it one that we can proudly show visitors and one that will attract people to choose Coffs Harbour as a place to move to.

Mark Henschke


Ratepayers will wear the cost of this project

OBVIOUSLY the mayor, together with a vocal few, are hellbent on thrusting the residents of Coffs Harbour into endless debt, while at the same time getting rid of one of its most important income producing assets, the airport, all in the name of promoting culture and the arts.

Their original argument was that Coffs is a cultural desert without a suitable performing arts space, but this has been shot down with the recent announcement of the upcoming Elton John concerts as well as the announcement by C.ex CEO that it intends to soon construct an entertainment centre.

So now the proposed edifice in the city is intended to house not an entertainment centre, but council headquarters with an art gallery and museum tacked on, none of which will generate income to service this estimated $76 million debt (in today's money).

Nevertheless, this group with no background in building or commercial development, choose to ignore the advice offered by those with professional experience and commerc

ial nous who have warned against such a proposal.

Regardless, this group is willing to cast caution to the wind and proceed with a venture full of economic assumptions and little hope of economic viability on the basis that council suddenly needs new headquarters even though the opposite view is held by some within council.

This all seems like 'slight of hand' to me after years of argument by this same vocal minority for an entertainment centre/cultural precinct in the city.

To all those people who think that Coffs is a cultural desert - my family moved to Coffs Harbour from a major cultural centre many years ago for the climate, beaches and relaxed lifestyle, not the opera.

I suggest to those who feel Coffs is devoid of arts and culture to travel to, or better still, relocate to, such a cultural centre and not saddle the residents and future generations of Coffs Harbour with a whopping debt, the extent of which is unknown.

Barry Giddins, Toormina


City Hill is a better location than Gordon St


A FEW reasons why the new gallery and museum would be better positioned on city hill .

1 The gallery and museum has the space to grow for the future.

2 Additional pods/ buildings could be added later

3 Museum  space could be increased to house all items still in storage

4 It could have more space for the entertainment centre.

5 The buildings could have views over green parkland ,trees, and space for walkways.

6 The building could have magnificent views over the Harbour

7 Space for sculptor in park events and night light events

8 Space for childrens indoor and outdoor playground

9 Space for restaurant and cafe space indoor and outdoor.

10 Funding would be easier to obtain without council chambers being included.

11 Parking space for cars buses and tourist coaches and vans

12 The Bunker Gallery is nearby another tourist attraction

13 Walk/cycle way from the gallery museum to botanic gardens and creek walk to pet porpoise pool then to jetty and on to university, a great tourist attraction.

The Library could stay where it is and extended into gallery space  and upper levels of the building.

More parking on the opposite side of street for the Library

Council chambers could have a complete renovation and another level on the roof with views over the city and Harbour.

Lynne Mak